One of the (many) reasons I wanted to move to the San Francisco Bay Area was its proximity to the wine countries of Napa and Sonoma – and many others that will soon start to make an appearance on this blog. One of my very first trips after I moved here was to Calistoga, the northernmost town of Napa. I had never been to this neat little town known for its hot springs. It seemed like a throwback to the “old” Napa, from before Downtown Napa exploded and became trendy. I had actually noticed the last time I had been in southern Napa that people were starting to dress up more for the more scene-y restaurants. And I hadn’t even packed one pair of heels! As I wrote in Huffington Post, during my years living in Las Vegas, I always enjoyed my getaways to wine country, which I turned into my little escape, where I could be outside and learn about farming before heading back to to the bright lights of the Strip. It’s strange how a lot of people think Napa and such are so “fancy” – but it really is all about the land! In fact, I just wrote about Sonoma’s Benziger and the pictured Phifer Pavitt, in Calistoga, in a piece for Los Angeles Confidential about how eco-friendly wine country has become. Continue Reading »»
Attention wanderlusters: For those of you who haven’t fallen for Birch Box (which I love), this brand-new monthly surprise service might be more your style. Maybe it’s the editor in me, but I just love poring over new products and digging into info on brands and places I’m not familiar with. Seeing as I’m also a travel junkie, imagine how excited I was to be gifted the first installment of Escape Monthly, a monthly shoebox-sized delivery of goodies for the travel-inclined. The first installment just happened to be on Napa, where I’ve been spending a great amount of time lately.
So I dug in with glee!
Yes, Benziger certainly has the acres and acres of rolling green hills that wineries in Sonoma are known for, but they were also groundbreakers when it came to “green” wine-making tactics. The winery is famous for becoming the first in the area to be named Demeter-certified Biodynamic, the highest level of organic farming. To get there, the family-owned affair rotates crops, balances vines with olive trees, creates eco-systems that control insects instead of killing them with pesticides, and recycles a whopping two million gallons of water a year through ponds. No wonder Tiffany and I had an extra pep in our step! After an amazing kick-off at Robert Mondavi, we loved the gorgeous ride out to Benziger — and then when we got there, we were rewarded with sun and lengthy tour outdoors in all of that pesticide-free fresh air.
When you live in the desert, you develop a certain appreciation for endless rolling green hills like these, at Benziger Family Winery in Sonoma. Seven siblings, one winery — what’s not to love? As if that wasn’t enough, Benziger is Demeter-certified Biodynamic, the highest level of organic farming. My friend Tiffany and I had an amazing time during our visit, riding around on a golf cart with the youngest sibling, Kathy. Each grasping a glass of crisp chardonnay, we toured the gorgeous property, basking in the sun (it had been a little cloudy in at the wineries in Napa that morning). We had such a great time at our official tasting back at the main house and purchased several delicious bottles of cabernet and pinot noir, as well as some snacks for our ride back to Napa.
Don’t I look right at home in a vineyard? (Yeah, right — I look so awkward. Plus, I was freezing!) Oh, it was so gorgeous though. I could have stayed out there all afternoon. Alas, delicious wines awaited inside… And did I mention the castle? Built by a wealthy medieval architecture nut named Dario Sattui, Castello di Amarosa opened in 2007, 121,000 square feet of sprawling antique brick and cabernet sauvignon, merlot, sangiovese and primitivo vineyards. The tour of this unique property was fascinating, and the wines impressive. Whatever your opinions on this “different” project, I highly recommend going. I had never heard of anything like it! It was definitely one of the most interesting wineries in Napa, that’s for sure.
As I enter into a really busy Las Vegas weekend, I needed to escape for just a little bit. My tour through some of the beautiful wineries in Napa is about to come to an end, but I wanted throw up just a little taste before I do my final post. Napa really is my favorite escape, because its rolling green hills and lush nature make everything seem to slow down, and worries and stress from city life disappear. I bet people who live there sleep better at night than I do, just like I slept so well in the dense jungles of Costa Rica. This photo was taken at Castello di Amarosa, which you’ll see more of soon. It was a gray cloudy day, and my little camera didn’t capture the gorgeous grounds how I would have liked. But I would give anything to rejuvenate there for an hour before my weekend! And I love how the beautiful castle peaks out from the top right corner.